Nanoparticles for pancreatic cancer treatment

Title of the research project

MINT - Multifunctional Immunocompatible NanoTheranostics to modulate tumor microenvironment and improve treatment monitoring: A double blow to pancreatic cancer

Scientific area

Chemistry, Bioengineering, Cancer Nanomedicine

Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow

Sugata Barui


Delivering drugs to the tumor site is difficult, in the case of pancreatic tumors, because of the abundant presence of fibrotic tissues. The project  aims to develop tumor targeted nanocrystals coated by a biomimetic layer with enhanced drug delivery capability. The nanocrystals will be able to disturb the tumor microenvironment and also to provide contrast enhancement for treatment monitoring.

Description of the research project 

Different nanomaterials have been developed so far in particular against cancer, but very little attention has been paid to their potential immunogenicity, to their final destiny, as well as to the importance of zero-delivery in unwanted places. Thus, there is still a huge disproportion between the present nanomedicine tools and the clinical requirements. The ambitious purpose of the MINT project is to develop a theranostic (able to deliver a therapy and make a diagnosis at the same time) and immunocompatible tumor targeted nanoconstruct with enhanced drug delivery capabilities to cancer cells. The nanoconstruct will act by disturbing  the microenvironment supporting the  pancreatic cancer, one of the most lethal human malignancies. It can also work as magnetic resonance contrast agent to be probed for treatment monitoring. 

In recent years several therapeutic advances have been implemented for many cancer types, but the scenario of pancreatic cancer remains unchanged. The main factor behind the limited efficacy of chemotherapeutics in pancreatic cancer is its complex microenvironment. MINT project aims to target signaling pathways correlated to the tumor microenvironment and deliver related therapeutics through the multifunctional immunocompatible nanoconstruct. The final objective is to deplete the tumor fibrotic tissue, normalize the vascularity and improve the efficiency of therapies against pancreatic cancer. This therapeutic outcome will also have a significant impact on other cancers rich in fibrotic tissues.

Impact on fellow career and on society 

This fellowship will enable a highly interdisciplinary collaboration between the fellow, experienced in targeted therapy and pancreatic cancer biology, and the supervisor, pioneer in designing nanotheranostics. It will effectively promote fellow’s professional and leadership skills, providing her new expertise in nanotheranostics, significantly widening her career perspectives. The project outcomes will have tremendous benefit to European biomedical sectors, bridge the current gap between conventional therapies and frontier research in cancer nanomedicine.

Short CV of Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow 

Sugata Barui graduated from Presidency College, Kolkata, India and postgraduated from IIT Kharagpur, India in Chemistry. She performed her PhD research on receptor mediated targeted cancer therapy at CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad, India and postdoctoral research on pancreatic cancer at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston,  USA. She has published several articles on high impact factor journals and one book. She has obtained patents, has been responsible of a funded research project and has received a few Scholarships. Currently she is working as postodoc researcher in the Department of Chemistry & Biological Engineering at IIT Gandhinagar in India.


Valentina Cauda, DISAT - Department of Applied Science and Technology, Politecnico di Torino

MINT project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 842964

  • Budget: 183.400 euro
  • Start date: 1/09/2019
  • End date: 31/08/2021